Tips on taking control of dental phobia

Avoiding dental visits can become a vicious cycle. You feel embarrassed by the condition of your teeth and gums, so you don’t go to see a dentist. But the longer you wait, the worse your oral health becomes, and the more reluctant you are to make an appointment. For some people, the fear is intense enough to be termed dental phobia.

It’s possible that the fear started with a lecture or judgmental remark from a dentist at some earlier point in life. The thought of a repeat performance is then, for a patient with dental phobia, too much to bear. This style of communication dates from an era gone by and is, at most dental practices, long extinct. The vast majority of dentists and their staff members today recognize the value of a positive, nonthreatening environment in attracting and retaining patients. They’re working for you, and they know that negative comments are a quick way to ensure that your next appointment – if there is one – is with another practice.

It’s common for patients who haven’t been to the dentist in years or decades to fear that the dentist has never seen a patient with such a long lapse in care, or one with teeth and gums in such a poor state. This concern is, however, misplaced. While you may feel alone in your aversion to professional oral care, it’s actually a common situation. You may not hear about it, since people do not typically stand around the water cooler broadcasting that they’ve avoided the dentist for 10 years or more. But the average dentist encounters such patients frequently. As for any dental problems you may have, rest assured that your dentist has seen them before. Dentists are focused on one thing: Getting your teeth and gums into the best shape possible. That means eliminating any pain you’re experiencing, maximizing function and achieving a good cosmetic result. Dentists choose their profession because they enjoy helping people, and no condition you might have will phase your dentist.

Is it possible, even today, that you’ll encounter a dentist who will make you feel bad? Unfortunately, there are still a few dental professionals who practice the old methods of communication. They may feel that chastising you is a way to help, or they may simply be insensitive. In the unlikely event that you ever encounter such a dentist, vote with your feet. Build a trusting relationship with a dentist who understands that browbeating you will not help you achieve optimal oral health.

Too many people let decay, problematic fillings, pain and other dental issues go on for too long because they dread going to the dentist. As a result, they may avoid smiling and may not be able to eat certain foods. Depression often takes hold. But it’s crucial to understand that dentists spend every working day fixing the same kinds of problems you have, and they are not shocked by them. Your dentist will be happy to help you correct old tooth and gum issues and prevent future ones. Don’t let fear of embarrassment stand in the way of achieving the good dental health you deserve.

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